Automating the Business Analyst

Business Analysts (BA’s) play a pivotal role in the success of technology projects. BA’s are expected to assume roles that go well beyond just defining and tracking requirements. Some of these roles include Business Planners, Systems Analysts, Project Managers, Subject Matter Experts, Data Analysts, Application Analysts, Testers…well this list can go on! The biggest issue with these ever changing roles that BA’s play is that the attributes and dispositions of a Business Analyst are so wide that it doesn’t feel like roles that are being carried out by the same person

Given this dynamic, our experience has been that BA’s play a critical role in ensuring end quality of a product. However, the role of BA’s does not end here. Invariably they are the ones involved in ensuring that products work the way they should post implementation; i.e., in Business as Usual modes. Thus BA’s play a crucial role in designing test programs and managing them in the long run to ensure defects are caught in time and addressed.

At Zen Test Labs, we have long been an advocate of easing the lives of BA’s when it comes to their roles in testing. It is not desirable to have BA’s test but given that it inevitable, it makes sense to automate large parts of the process in a way that BA’s can seamlessly create and execute tests. We have put together a whitepaper that talks about marrying a Business Process Model Based Test approach to Scriptless Test Automation thus ensuring that testing is synchronized across business and technology operations.

Download the whitepaper today to learn more about how you can automate the business analyst!

Tug of War between BA’s and QA…Guess who gets stuck?

I have always wondered what the core responsibility of a business analyst is.
Googling it, which is not a great idea, threw up hundreds of responses! The more I analyzed, I realized that they form the bridge between business and technology – translating technical explanations into something that business understands and vice versa. On the one hand, a proficient business analyst performs testing better than those with a strong technology background, and on the other hand they are able to write use cases which can be easily understood by the technical team. They lose credibility if one side is favored against the other, even if it is because they come with one dominant background walking into the BA role. Due to this unique combination of skills, good business analysts are a ‘high in demand’ rare genre.

Since Quality Assurance is a big part of what BAs do, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have some tools which use business vocabulary instead of technical? Most QA related tools like Selenium and QTP demand technical knowledge which business analysts often lack. So much for the rapid progress of technology! What BAs need is a framework that deskills the entire process of test automation! Easier said than done, right?

Well, I have done some research on that front and while I have not come across a dedicated tool for BA’s, I have been exposed to some automation frameworks that use the concept of business scenarios based test case creation using an graphical interface. These frameworks claim automating testing at a click of button by dragging/ dropping business flows. They combine different approaches of automation like functional decomposition and keyword driven to give friendly user interface, are easy to maintain, and allow reuse scaling the entire testing operation. In fact some of them even claim to eliminate the need to maintain huge automation staff once the Business Scenario, Component and Utility layers are ready.

With such frameworks BA’s can focus on ensuring that high quality tests are designed and executed thereby mitigating business risks. I wish there is more research and investment to address issues such as these and help improve the overall productivity of both business and IT.

Have you had similar experiences and come across a solution? I will be more than happy to share my research and discuss on the frameworks.

Aparna Katre

Director Strategy | Zen Test Labs